Tracking top draft prospects: Wild weekend, mostly great performances
09/05/22 - By Frank Cooney, NFL Draft Scout/The Sports Xchange - Headed by extraordinary performances this weekend, there was only one casualty among NFL Draft Scout's top rated players. Well, not counting players for Oregon.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the NFL Draft Scout top-rated receiver at sixth overall, is expected to miss a game or two after suffering a low-grade hamstring injury Saturday evening in the No. 2 Buckeyes' season-opening, 21-10, victory against Notre Dame. Smith-Njigba will undergo an MRI this week to confirm the low-grade diagnosis, but the junior reportedly had good range of motion in initial tests.
And in a wild Sunday night game, LSU receiver Kayshon Boutte, rated as second best receiver and eighth overall, seemed to be on the sideline in inordinate amount of time and finished with only two catches for 20 yards. Florida State held on to beat LSU, 24-23, when the Seminoles blocked a PAT with no time remaining. That came after LSU drove 99 yards to score a touchdown as time ran out. Something doesn't seem right between Boutte and LSU coach Brian Kelly, despite fact they reportedly kissed and made up after the coach called out the receiver a few weeks back.
On Saturday, Oregon was just not prepared to face the toughness and quickness of defending national champion Georgia in a brutal 49-3 decision that separated the pretenders from the contenders. Overall, the play was so lopsided that it was hard to determine how poorly some of Oregon's individual players performed. Let's just say they weren't ready for the likes of Georgia.
Based on performances so far, expect to see some movement in NFL Draft Scout ratings in coming weeks.
Overall, the top players played like top players. Here is a quick look (players listed by Draft Scout ratings, with college year, position, school, height, weight):
1. Will Anderson Jr., Jr, OLB, Alabama, 6-3, 243
In Alabama's resounding 55-0 season-opening win over Utah State Saturday, OLB Will Anderson quickly showed why he is NFL Draft Scout's top-rated player. His personal stats weren't huge - five total tackles, three solo - but his play was. In the first quarter, with the Tide leading 17-0, he blew up Utah State running back Logan Bonner, creating a vid that went viral as Anderson showed why he is called "The Terminator."
2. C.J. Stroud, rSo, QB, Ohio State, 6-3, 218
Stroud threw two touchdown passes and Ohio State shut out No. 5 Notre Dame over the final 42 minutes in a gritty 21-10 victory on Saturday night. The Irish hung with the high-scoring Buckeyes for most of three quarters, frustrating Heisman Trophy finalist Stroud and putting together a couple of first-half scoring drives. Stroud finished 24 of 34 for 223 yards, two touchdowns and rushed three for net one yard.
3. Jalen Carter, Jr, DT, Georgia, 6-3, 310
Georgia dominated Oregon in a 49-3 blowout and Carter looked like a man among boys despite the Ducks trying various combinations to block him. Carter's stats, one tackle, no assists, no sacks, don't reflect the mayhem he caused.
4. Bryce Young, Jr, QB, Alabama, 6-0, 194
Bryce Young did Bryce Young things in the first half of No. 1 Alabama's 55-0 trouncing of Utah State. The Heisman Trophy winner threw five touchdowns in the first half alone. Young threw for 195 yards and five scores. He also rushed for 96 yards on four carries, including an impressive 63-yard run. 'Nuf said.
5. Kelee Ringo, rSo, CB, Georgia, 6-2, 205
Ringo did his part frustrating Oregon transfer quarterback Bo Nix (Auburn) as the Ducks were held without a touchdown (49-3). Stats show only three tackles for Ringo. Bulldog teammates, freshman safety Makail Starks and five-star freshman Mykel Williams, each had an interception on a defense that featured six new starters.
6. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jr, WR, Ohio State, 6-0, 198
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, a potential Heisman Trophy contender and the top-rated receiver on NFL Draft Scout, is expected to miss a game or two due to a low-grade hamstring injury Saturday in the No. 2 Buckeyes' season-opening, 21-10, victory against Notre Dame. Smith-Njigba will undergo an MRI this week to confirm the low-grade diagnosis, but the junior reportedly had good range of motion in initial tests. The junior from Rockwall, Texas led Ohio State with 95 catches for 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021. His absence will leave a hole for Ohio State as Smith-Njigba is the only receiver on the Buckeyes' roster who posted more than 200 receiving yards last season.
7. Michael Mayer, Jr, TE, Notre Dame, 6-5, 265
While ND fans griped about the Irish offense being boring in 21-10 loss at second-ranked Ohio State, they should have no complaints about tight end Michael Mayer. He looked excellent as blocker, receiver and brutal after-catch runner against a very good Buckeyes defense. He led Notre Dame with five catches for 32 yards.
8. Kayshon Boutte, Jr, WR, LSU, 6-0, 205
Whacked game ended with no time on clock as blocked PAT preserved Florida State's 24-23 victory. LSU had recovered a fumble on its own one-yard line and drove 99 yards to score touchdown on two-yard pass with no time remaining. OK, this is about Boutte, whose contribution to this game was also whacked. At 3:58 left in third quarter his first contribution was to draw a pass interference that kept LSU's first TD drive alive. He finished with only two catches for 20 yards and had one drop on a play that was out of sync.
He also spent an inordinate amount of time on the sidelines. This is after flamboyant coach Brian Kelly called out Boutte a few weeks back, questioning his commitment. Last week Kelly said the receiver, ranked eighth overall by draft scout, "recommitted." Boutte was awarded LSU's coveted No. 7 jersey, ostensibly for the team's top player. In 16 career games through 2021 season, Boutte scored 14 touchdowns and had at least one reception in each game in which he appeared, a streak that barely lives on.
9. Noah Sewell, rSo, ILB, Oregon, 6-2, 253
Considered the best inside linebacker in the nation and a wrecking ball on defense, Sewell collected only two tackles with one assist in Oregon's embarrassing, 49-3, loss to Georgia. The Ducks seemed to be totally manhandled and it may take some film study to see if Sewell salvaged any self-respect in this one.
10. Jordan Addison, Jr, WR, Southern California, 5-11, 175
Defending Biletnikoff Award winner and the center of mucho attention when he transferred from Pitt, Addison picked up where he left off last season as USC pummeled the Rice Owls, 66-14. Addison led the Trojans with five catches for 54 yards and two touchdowns. "This is definitely a statement," Addison said. "That's what we wanted to do. Week 1, we had to show everybody that this wasn't just no hype. We're ready to play."
11. Isaiah Foskey, rJr, DE, Notre Dame, 6-5, 265
Foskey, considered a key on the Irish defense, didn't really stand out in their 21-10 loss at Ohio State. He finished with four tackles but didn't generate much pressure. It was most telling in the fourth quarter when Notre Dame needed a stop and just couldn't get one. Much of the reason could be Ohio State offensive tackle Paris Johnson, whose matchup with Foskey was a focal point going into the game (see No. 12)
12. Paris Johnson Jr., Jr, OT, Ohio State, 6-6, 315
Green Bay Packers scouts said aloud going into the ND-OSU game that they were focused on battle between Johnson and ND defensive end Isaiah Foskey (see No. 11). Well, Ohio State controlled the ball to close out the victory with impressive play in the fourth quarter especially. Advantage: Johnson.
13. Jaelyn Duncan, rSr, OT, Maryland, 6-5, 320
Terp quarterback Taulia Tagovailo and a dynamic receiving crew got all the attention as Maryland mauled the Buffalo Bulls, 31-10. But somebody assisted in gathering 445 total yards, with 297 passing and that somebody was massive offensive tackle Jaelyn Duncan, who was second team All-Big Ten last year and is on the ascent.
14. Tanner McKee, rSo, QB, Stanford, 6-5, 225
McKee threw two touchdown passes to Michael Wilson and Stanford routed FCS Colgate 41-10 on Saturday night in a season opener for both teams. "All offseason, he's been the guy," Stanford coach David Shaw said of his quarterback. "Leader on the football team. He was voted team captain. McKee completed 22 of 27 for 308 yards, the two touchdowns and one interception.
15. Jordan Battle, Sr, SS, Alabama, 6-0, 206
Although situated at strong safety, Battle is as good, or better, in coverage as he is in tackling. Both are at a high level. In Bama's 55-0 dismantling of Utah State, Battle was credited with four tackles and had no interceptions, but hey, they pitched a shutout and allowed only 136 total yards, including a mere 57 in the air.
16. Emmanuel Forbes, Jr, CB, Mississippi State, 6-0, 180
Sometimes when a cornerback has no stats it is because the opponent feared him. That seemed to be the case, and justifiably so, in Mississippi State's 49-23 win over Memphis. Mississippi State cornerback Emmanuel Forbes had no official stats, like tackles, assists or interceptions. But we know he was there because he had one Kodak Moment knocking away a pass intended for Memphis wide receiver Javon Ivory in the end zone. Great play. Forbes is the FBS active career leader in interceptions returned for touchdowns with three, which is tied for the most in school history and also has him ranked second nationally in overall defensive touchdowns entering 2022.
17. Bryan Bresee, rSo, DT, Clemson, 6-5, 300
Former No. 1 recruit in the country burst onto the scene as a Freshman All-American in 2020 when he became the second ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year in school history. Injuries limited him to only four games last year and with senior DE Xavier Thomas out, Bresee is expected to lead the charge on a talented defensive line. Bresee looked strong while often facing double-team blocking Monday in a 41-10 win over Georgia Tech. Clemson rotated its talented defensive linemen and Bresee was in on 1.5 sacks and had a notable tackle for a loss. He seemed more adept at owning real estate than disengaging and pursuing opponents.
18. Nolan Smith, Sr, OLB, Georgia, 6-2, 235
Smith's length, strength, quickness and field smarts were obvious, especially against Oregon's running game in the Dawgs' 49-3 season-opening win. The Ducks seems to run away from him but the big guy took it as a challenge and tracked players all over the field. Only two tackles and no sacks, but Oregon game planned to avoid him.
19. Joey Porter Jr., rJr, CB, Penn State, 6-2, 198
Porter was all over the field in a barn-burner of a season-opening, 35-31, win at Purdue. Although Purdue quarterback Aidan O'Connell threw for 356 yards, it took him 58 passes to do so (29 complete). Porter forced six incompletions and led the team with eight tackles.
20. Bijan Robinson, Jr, RB, Texas, 6-0, 214
With a lot of attention on coach Steve Sarkisian seeking success after a 5-7 season in 2021 and Texas' new starting quarterback Quinn Evans (225 yards passing, two TDs), running back Bijan Robinson may have been a bit overlooked in that 52-10 win against overmatched Louisiana-Monroe. But he did his job. Robinson finished with 111 total yards on 13 touches, and two third-quarter touchdowns on a 16-yard catch and a 9-yard run. The third-year running back has a touchdown in 12 of his last 13 games.
21. Tyler Van Dyke, rSo, QB, Miami, 6-3, 224
After stealing the job from injured D'Eriq King and then Jake Garcia last year, Van Dyke staked his claim with six straight games passing for at least 300 yards and three TDs. He began coach Mario Cristobal's era with another great performance in a resounding, 70-13, beat-down of obviously overmatched Bethune-Cookman. Van Dyke, a third-year sophomore, showed why he is probably headed to the NFL next season by completing 13 of 16 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns before yielding the field to Garcia midway through the third quarter.
22. Josh Downs, Jr, WR, North Carolina, 5-10, 175
Downs did not play in North Carolina's epic, 63- 61 win over feisty Appalachian State. Downs was injured in the season-opening, 56-24, win over the Florida A&M Rattlers (FAMU). In that game he caught nine passes for 78 yards and two touchdowns. He limped off the field after his second score and wore ice on his left knee during a post-game. No word on if or when he will return.
23. Jermaine Burton, Jr, WR, Alabama, 6-0, 200
Burton celebrated his transfer from Georgia by catching five passes for 35 yards and two scores a 55-0 win over Utah State. Coach Nick Saban failed in an attempt to recruit Burton out of high school but jumped at the chance to get him out of transfer portal. Now Burton hopes to become the latest in a list of Alabama's seven first round receivers since 2011.
24. JL Skinner, rSr, SS, Boise State, 6-3, 220
Skinner led Boise State with six tackles and an interception in a 34-17 loss at Oregon State. His exploits are overlooked not only because of the loss, but because most attention is on a brewing quarterback controversy after starter Hank Bachmeier was benched following two interceptions and the team announced open competition for that job this week. Against that background, nobody is chatting up the strong safety, regardless of how well he played.
25. O'Cyrus Torrence, Sr, OG, Florida, 6-5, 347
Torrence is a transfer from Louisiana who joined the Florida Gators in the spring. Hard to get stats on a guard and we haven't seen vids on the game, but in their 29-26 win over Utah, the Gators gained 451 total yards, including 283 on the ground. Somebody must have been blocking and Torrence, a massive 6-5, 347-pounder, is probably, ah, somebody in that equation.
26. Colby Wooden, rJr, DE, Auburn, 6-4, 284
Wooden could have entered the 2022 draft after an excellent 2021 season with 37 stops, second among interior defensive linemen in college football. But he returned because "I don't want to be a loser," referencing a 6-7 season that spiraled down with five straight losses. The Tigers are 1-0 after a 42-16 win against overmatched Mercer, which managed only 271 total yards, 74 on the ground. Auburn and Wooden should face more of a test in the next two weeks against San Jose State and Penn St.
27. Tyler Harrell, rSr, WR, Alabama, 6-0, 194
We must wait to see the speed of Harrell, who sat out Alabama's 55-0 win over Utah State with a foot injury. Before the game he was seen with a walking boot on his right foot. Harrell transferred from Louisville, where he established a reputation for speed and agility. One of the fastest players at any position in college football, Harrell had 18 catches for 523 yards and six touchdowns a year ago at Louisville.
28. Ryan Hayes, rSr, OT, Michigan, 6-6, 307
Michigan gained 440 total yards, with 234 of that on the ground, but left tackle Ryan Hayes had nothing to do with it. In a surprise, he was in street clothes on the sideline. The Wolverines also lost Karson Barnhart in the first quarter and shifted their line, moving guard Trevor Keegan to tackle and inserting freshman Giovanni El-Hadi at guard. No problem. Michigan scored four touchdowns rushing, surrendered just one sack and allowed two hurries. Coach Jim Harbaugh pointed out that the unit accounted for just one penalty, a hold, and "No false starts, no delay of games." He stopped short of saying it was due to good coaching.
29. Peter Skoronski, Jr, OG, Northwestern, 6-4, 315
The Wildcats rallied to beat Nebraska, 31-28, on August. 27, amassing 528 yards in the process (314 passing, 214 rushing). Skoronski was dominant, giving up zero sacks or hurries in 39 pass-block snaps. In fact, Northwestern's O-Line controlled Nebraska almost the entire game and didn't give up a sack. After a week off, Northwestern plays Duke Saturday (Sept. 10).
30. Cam Hart, rJr, CB, Notre Dame, 6-2, 198
Former wide receiver in 2019, Hart became one of Notre Dame's best defensive backs, with his experience as a receiver translating to ball skill ability at corner. He also showed good physicality last season. In Notre Dame's 21-10 loss at Ohio State he had two total tackles. He was burned by wide receiver Emeka Egbuka on a 31-yard touchdown with 5:32 left in the third quarter, which gave Ohio State a 7-3 lead.
31. Will McDonald IV, rSr, DE, Iowa State, 6-3, 245
McDonald, who had 11.5 sacks last season and 10.5 in 2020, failed to add another in Iowa State's 42-10 romp over Southeastern Missouri State. He did have one tackle as the Cyclones held the Redhawks to 320 total yards, including 98 rushing. Fresh off the big win over SEMO, Iowa State will travel to Iowa City next week for the annual Cy-Hawk matchup against Iowa.
32. Christopher Smith, rSr, FS, Georgia, 5-11, 190
Safety Christopher Smith collected three tackles and an interception in Georgia's dominant, 49-3, win over Oregon. Smith was knocked out of the game after making a great pass breakup. He apparently injured his shoulder. After the game, Smith told the media it was "only a stinger."
33. Jack Campbell, rJr, ILB, Iowa, 6-4, 243
Campbell was strong on and off the field in Iowa's 7-3 win over South Dakota State. During the game he led the Hawkeyes with five tackles, seven assists as SDS was held to a mere 120 total yards (87 passing, 33 rushing). But Iowa fans were more focused on their own team's anemic offense, with 166 total yards including only 109 passing. They booed lustily. Campbell hit back in his post-game interview: "I hate to break it to you guys, but they're more than football players. They're brothers, sons, grandsons and I feel a lot of people lose sight of that. I just view them as a person, as a relationship, as a friend...No matter what, I'm always going to have their backs. I'm never going to point fingers and I'm never going to complain because I have the greatest opportunity in the world because I love football...As a 3-phase team, we went out there and gave it our all today."
34. Siaki Ika, rJr, DT, Baylor, 6-3, 350
Defensive tackle Siaki Ika had two assists in Baylor's 69-10 romp over Albany as the Bears outgained the Great Danes in total yardage, 573-237. Albany had only 87 yards rushing. He is a fourth-year junior who transferred from LSU before the 2021 season. Ika played as a freshman in 2019 under LSU assistant Dave Aranda, who became Baylor's head coach in 2020. Coaches selected Ikaw a Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2021. .
35. Clark Phillips III, rSo, CB, Utah, 5-09, 183
Phillips was among those unable to stop Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson who threw for 168 yards and ran for 106 yards and three touchdowns in a 29-26 upset over No. 7 ranked Utah. Philllips was credited with only one tackle in the game, although he seemed to be in on more, including one when he avoided a blocker to make a stop on a screen. Florida was conscious of Phillips and put his man in motion or seemed to stay away from him.
36. Myles Murphy, Jr, DE, Clemson, 6-4, 275
Murphy is a former Top 5 national recruit who made an instant impact as a freshman All-American in 2020. He had 14 tackles for a loss, seven sacks last season. In Monday's 41-10 win over Georgia Tech, Murphy was effective as part of Clemson's talented group of defensive linemen and was in on one sack.
37. Derick Hall, Sr, OLB, Auburn, 6-2, 256
Hall contributed two official tackles with one sack in Auburn's 42-16 thrashing of the Mercer Bears. Auburn and Hall should face more of a test in the next two weeks against San Jose State and Penn St.
38. Cameron Brown, rSr, CB, Ohio State, 6-0, 190
Brown is in his fifth season with Buckeyes, graduated in May with a degree in human development and family sciences and still has another season of eligibility. In Ohio State's 21-10 win over Notre Dame, Brown started at cornerback. He doesn't show up on stats sheet but made at least one key play to stop Ohio State on a third down attempt.
39. Kenny McIntosh, Sr, RB, Georgia, 6-0, 210
McIntosh is clearly the focal point of this offense. He was versatile element in Georgia's 49-3 trouncing of Oregon. He rushed five times for 18 yards and a touchdown, but tore up the Ducks defense with nine catches for 117 yards. That was the most receiving yards by a Georgia running back since 2000.
40. Keeanu Benton, rJr, DT, Wisconsin, 6-3, 317
Nose tackle Keeanu Benton was one of the Wisconsin team captains in the season-opening, , 38-0, victory over Illinois State. The Badgers held the Redbirds to only 243 total yards, and a mere 57 on the ground. Benton was credited with only two assists but his presence ate up multiple blockers while inside linebacker Maema Njogmeta was free to lead the team with seven tackles, one assist.
41. A.T. Perry, rJr, WR, Wake Forest, 6-4, 206
Perry was one of the ACC's breakout stars of 2021, finished No. 3 in the conference with 1,293 receiving yards at 18.2 yards per catch and 15 TDs. He was targeted by more than footballs as several groups made NIL offerings to lure him away, but he opted to stay and team up with quarterback Sam Hartman. Hartman is out with a non-football medical issue so Mitch Griffis was the quarterback in season-opening, 44-10, win over the VMI Keydets. Griffis did well, 21 of 29 for 288 yards and three touchdowns. Perry caught three passes for 47 yards.
42. Zion Logue, rJr, DT, Georgia, 6-5, 295
In 2021, Logue played in all 15 games as a reserve defensive lineman on the talented Dawg defense and finished with 11 total stops and three QB pressures. In the season opening, 49-3, thrashing of Oregon, Logue was listed as the starting nose tackle, but he had no tackles or assists on the official stats. Ah, the role of a nose tackle is not always glorious.
43. Zay Flowers, rJr, WR, Boston College, 5-10, 177
Flowers did his part in Boston College's season opener with career high ten catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns. But he couldn't overcome his team's six fumbles and two interceptions as Rutgers gutted out a come-from-behind, 22-21, upset victory.
44. Tyrique Stevenson, rJr, CB, Miami, 6-0, 214
After two years with Georgia, Stevenson moved to Miami last season and started in ten games, finishing with 43 tackles, 2.5 for a loss, an interception and four pass breakups. In Miami's 70-13 mauling of Bethune Cookman, Stevenson was credited with two tackles, one assist and no interceptions.
45. Carter Warren, rSr, OT, Pittsburgh, 6-5, 325
Pitt rallied to win the season-opening Backyard Brawl against West Virginia, 38-31, before a crowd of 77,622, largest ever for a sporting event in sports-crazy Pittsburgh. This was a game that had to be seen to be believed. So watch for a replay. Meantime, Warren did well in this wide open game as Pitt gained 384 total yards, 308 passing by one time Southern Cal quarterback Kedon Slovis, despite being sacked five times. After the game, Pitt coach ripped ESPN for saying 75 percent of the fans were pulling for West Virginia. On TV, the crowd seemed split.
46. Ronnie Hickman, rJr, FS, Ohio State, 6-1, 205
In No. 2 Ohio State's dramatic, 21-10, win over No. 5 Notre Dame, Hickman was credited with four total tackles, including two assists. The Irish offense was ripped by fans who thought it was to unimaginative and boring, but credit goes to the Buckeyes for giving up only 253 total yards, 177 through the air and no touchdown passes.
47. Cam Smith, rJr, CB, South Carolina, 6-1, 188
In a 35-14 win over Georgia State, the South Carolina Gamecocks were in control, giving up 311 total yards, including only 111 in the air. Smith was credited with two total tackles.
48. Zach Charbonnet, rJr, RB, UCLA, 6-1, 220
In UCLA's season-opening, 45-17, win over Bowling Green, Bruins running back Zach Charbonnet rushed 21 times for 111 yards and touchdown and caught five passes for 36 yards. He keyed a UCLA offense that dominated the game with 626 total yards, 357 passing and 269 on the ground.
49. Warren McClendon, rJr, OG, Georgia, 6-4, 300
The returning starter at right tackle for Georgia's defending national championship team, Warren McClendon did a good job against an Oregon team that some defenders expected to do well. They didn't do well in Georgia's overpowering, 49-3, season-opening victory. McClendon and his fellow Dawgs totaled 571 yards (439 passing, 132 rushing) and converted nine of ten third downs.
50. Cedric Tillman, rSr, WR, Tennessee, 6-3, 215
Redshirt senior wide receiver Cedric Tillman led the Volunteers with six catches for 68 yards in a season-opening, 59-10, victory over the Ball State Cardinals. Last year, Tillman emerged as one of the SEC's best playmakers and became Tennessee's first 1,000-yard receiver since Justin Hunter in 2012...Started all 13 games...Finished the year with 64 catches for 1,081 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Other noteworthy performances:
QB Stetson Bennett, rSr., Georgia, 5-11, 190
Bennett, ranked by Draft Scout as the No. 24 quarterback in preseason, completed 25-of-31 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns as third-ranked Georgia defeated 11th-ranked Oregon, 49-3. Bennett, who passed for 154 yards in the first quarter, led the Bulldogs to touchdowns on each of their first seven possessions and completed passes to nine different Georgia receivers. Stetson Bennett becomes the 11th Georgia player to earn Walter Camp National FBS Player of Week honors, and the first since linebacker Channing Tindall (Nov. 14, 2021).
LB Jacoby Windmon, Senior, Michigan State, 6-1, 250
Windmon, ranked by Draft Scout as the No.25 outside linebacker in preseason, had seven tackles, four sacks for a loss of 17 yards and one forced fumble as 14th-ranked Michigan State opened up the 2022 season with a 35-13 victory over Western Michigan Friday evening. Notes: Jacoby Windmon is the seventh Michigan State player to earn Walter Camp National Player of the Year honors since 2004, and the first since former running back and 2021 Walter Camp Player of Year Kenneth Walker III (Oct. 31, 2021).